Do you ever get frustrated when praying for a breakthrough and you can’t seem to get it? There was a situation like this where Jesus’ disciples, who had already been given power by the Holy Spirit to heal people and cast out demons, found themselves unable to help a boy who was demonized.
Matthew 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 “[f]Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a [g]lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured [h]at once.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 And He *said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith [i]the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 21 [[j]But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]- NASB (Emphasis mine.)
So, here we have a boy who was in need of deliverance. (In the Greek, the word for lunatic — selēniázomai — implies convulsions, or a physical manifestation that takes place when the moon changes. For this reason, some versions, perhaps your bible version, translates this as epileptic.) Many people ask, “How could a child be demonized? I don’t think that’s possible.” Well, we won’t get into in detail, but here is a great example of the fact that a child can, indeed, be hurt or injured by an evil spirit. While that may be disturbing, notice the next disturbing fact.
Jesus’ disciples couldn’t help him.
The father probably brought the boy to the disciples, because he knew they had helped other people. The scriptures give account in Luke 10 that the disciples truly had received power from on high to cast out demons. What were the two things Jesus said to the disciples when they embarrassingly couldn’t help the demonized child?
He said they didn’t have faith. Well, that isn’t very nice of Jesus, was it? That is what many people may think at first glance. But, I don’t think Jesus is saying it as an insult. I think he is just letting them know that they have some growing to do. And why? So that they can minister to people in need!
The second thing he says is, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
So, what does this mean? First of all, it means there are different levels of evil spirits. Read what Ellicott’s commentary says about this passage.
“Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (21) This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.—The words imply degrees in the intensity of the forms of evil ascribed to demons amounting to a generic difference. Some might yield before the energy of a human will, and the power of the divine Name, and the prayers even of a weak faith. Some, like that which comes before us here, required a greater intensity of the spiritual life, to be gained by the “prayer and fasting” of which our Lord speaks. The circumstances of the case render it probable that our Lord himself had vouchsafed to fulfil both the conditions. The disciples, we know, did not as yet fast (Matthew 9:14-15), and the facts imply that they had been weak and remiss in prayer. The words are noticeable as testifying to the real ground and motive for “fasting,” and to the gain for the higher life to be obtained, when it was accompanied by true prayer, by this act of conquest over the lower nature. So St. Peter’s vision (Acts 10:9-10), and the appointment of Paul and Barnabas by the direct guidance of the Spirit (Acts 13:2), are both connected with fasting. And St. Paul, besides the “hunger and thirst” that came upon him as the incidents of his mission-work, speaks of himself as “in fastings often” (2Corinthians 11:27).”
Prayer focus –
Prayer for our nation, prayer to walk in power, prayer to walk in faith
- Father, in Jesus’ name, I come before you repenting for all of my years of lazy Christianity. I have allowed things like entertainment, movies, social media, going out with friends to take the place of spiritual disciplines that increase my faith and help me to draw closer to you. I have neglected your Word and prayer, trying to survive off of Instagram scripture meme, little arrows of prayer shot up through the day and listening to what other people, who are in your presence frequently, say about you. I want to be in your presence. I humble myself before you now and ask you to deliver me from myself.
- I ask you to sustain me during my time of fasting. May it be to your glory and honor. I know that fasting doesn’t save me. I know that Jesus saves me. But, I am using this time to humble myself before you. I ask you, Lord, to be my everything. I ask that you will increase my faith. Build my faith. Help my unbelief. Fill me with your power and your gifts. I want to walk in your authority in my life, Jesus, instead of in my own strength.
- I pray that you pull down the strongholds of the enemy in our nation. I pray that you bring mercy and forgiveness. Lord, there are many who are deceived by the lies of the devil concerning abortion. It says in Deuteronomy 21:8, “Forgive thy people Israel, whom you have redeemed, O Lord, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Thy people Israel. And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them.” I pray this for our nation, in Jesus’ name. Forgive they people in America. Forgive those who unknowingly have supported the spilling of innocent blood. Please forgive them. Please call your people to repent from self-centered living. Please convict of this sin and bring a fresh move of your Holy Spirit to heal women who have sinned in this way. Please call doctors out of the abortion industry. Convict and call them to repentance and healing. Uncover the evil in our nation and deliver us. Topple the strongholds of the enemy that are fighting in our nation to bring death and destruction to families and babies.
- Lord, I pray this prophetic word from Malachi over my family and nation, (look for italics for changing it into a prayer).
The Great Day of GodMalachi 4:1-6 NKJV
4 (Oh Lord,) “For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But (I) to you who fear (YOUR) My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His (Your) wings;
And you (I) shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he (Oh Lord, I ask that you will) will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I (You) come and strike the earth with a curse.” Have mercy, Lord.
Lord, it says in Romans, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet.” I pray that you will crush Satan underneath my feet. I pray that you will destroy his work, Lord Jesus. You appeared to destroy his work. Destroy his work in our nation, my county, in my town, in my church and in my family, in Jesus’ name! Protect me and my family, as I learn to battle for your kingdom in prayer. Protect us with the power of the blood of Jesus. Surround us with your angels. Fill us with your power. Lord, I ask that you teach me to fast in a way that will shake the enemy’s kingdom and bring about the kingdom of God in my heart, life and world, in Jesus’ name, amen!